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Transgender NZ weightlifter makes history

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/03/2017
General view of a weightlifting competition © Caren Firouz/Reuters General view of a weightlifting competition

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has made history as the first transgender athlete to represent New Zealand.

And she marked the occasion with a win.

Hubbard, 39, won the women's over 90kg division at the Australian International compeition in Melbourne on Sunday.

Her combined total of 268kg was nearly 20kg better than Samoan runner-up Iuniarra Sipaia, with another 20kg back to the next lifter in the field.

Hubbard was born the son of former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard and competed at national level in men's weightlifting as Gavin Hubbard.

She transitioned in her mid-30s and recent improvements have lifted her to a lofty women's ranking. The performance in Melbourne puts her in line for selection at next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Hubbard's emergence forced Rio Olympic lifter Tracey Lambrechs - a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist - to lose weight and compete in a lower division.

Lambrechs has spoken of uneasiness at Hubbard's eligibility but has vowed to continue her career in the 90kg class. She placed second in Melbourne.

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand says it has followed the policy of the International Olympic Committee and the world weightlifting governing body in allowing Hubbard to compete in the women's division.

The IOC acknowledges athletes as male or female, with no categorisation as transgender.

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